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Friends Charity Pledges £1 Million Boost to Exeter Cathedral Appeal

Dr Rosemary Yallop, Chair of the Friends of Exeter Cathedral, and The Very Reverend Jonathan Greener, Dean of Exeter.
Design for the new Cloister Gallery. Image: Acanthus Clews Architects/Marvin Chic
Design for the new Cloister Gallery. Image: Acanthus Clews Architects/Marvin Chic

The Friends of Exeter Cathedral charity has announced that it will donate £1 million towards the cathedral’s 2020s Development Appeal Project which is designed to make the ancient Devon landmark more inclusive, accessible and sustainable for the future.

The generous grant will support the building of a new cloister which will connect the cathedral with its historic Pearson building and Chapter House.

Dr Rosemary Yallop, Chair of the Friends of Exeter Cathedral, says the charity is delighted to support the building project:

“The Council of the Friends is delighted to lend its support to the cathedral’s new cloister project in the form of a grant of £1 million. This grant, one of the largest which the Friends have made, will make a significant impact in underpinning the funding for this project, which is a key part in the overarching development and renewal project for Exeter Cathedral.

“We never forget that we are only in a position to make an exceptional grant of this size because of the generosity of benefactors and members, past and present, who have made gifts to the Friends to mark their love of the cathedral, whether rooted in faith or through a deep sense of its history, or both, and the new cloister will be a tangible and enduring tribute to their support.” 

The Very Revd Jonathan Greener, Dean of Exeter, says Exeter Cathedral plans to acknowledge the generous grant with its naming of the new construction:

“The Friends of Exeter Cathedral are always amazingly generous in their support, but this extra grant is a tremendous gift, which will make a massive difference to our fundraising for this project. It makes our target so much more achievable. We are delighted that the new cloister, to be known as ‘The Friends’ Gallery,’ will be a lasting tribute to their donation, and a permanent acknowledgement of all that the Friends do for the cathedral.”

Founded in 1929, The Friends of Exeter Cathedral was established as an independent charity to help preserve and improve the fabric and furnishings of Exeter Cathedral.

For Peter Privett, Office Manager at the Friends of Exeter Cathedral, the charity’s aim is to ensure that the cathedral is here for future generations:

“The Friends of Exeter Cathedral was created to co-operate with the cathedral’s Dean and Chapter to help preserve the wonderful building along with its ministry and music, which plays an invaluable part in ensuring the long tradition of worship and praise continues well into the future.”

In recent years, the Friends have helped to fund a range of important projects including the installation of a new lighting system in the cathedral’s 13th century Chapter House and a major survey of its Bishop’s Throne and canopy.

Their funding is essential for the ongoing conservation of the historic building and to preserve its heritage crafts, including the cathedral’s stonemasonry. As well as supporting the salaries of Exeter Cathedral stonemasons, ongoing support from the Friends allows them to undertake specialist training such as the Cathedral Workshop Foundation Degree, which aims to preserve traditional craft skills for the conservation of cathedrals and other historic buildings. Funds also go towards providing equipment and materials, including the extraction of local stone used for repairs to the fabric of the building.

As Exeter Cathedral’s Clerk of Works, Chris Sampson explains:

“We are extremely grateful for the continued support and investment we receive from the Friends of Exeter Cathedral. Without this, the cathedral building would be in significantly worse condition.

“The Friends have a genuine interest in our work and in our people. To ensure that our heritage conservation skills are nurtured and passed on to future generations, it is essential to invest time in learning about this unique building and understanding its original builders. The support we receive from the Friends of Exeter Cathedral makes this possible.”

The charity enjoys a global membership of around 2,700 people, who establish a connection with the historic building through regular donations, subscriptions and legacies.